Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, August 18.
John Ford would have loved last night’s game in Cleveland. So would Fran Striker, the creator of “The Lone Ranger.” The Indians had dominated the White Sox, winning their last 7 games. In those games the Sox never put up more than 3 runs, which is no way to beat the Central division leading Tribe. In the 9th inning it looked like it would happen again, as the home team had a 7-5 lead. But like the last reel of a bad John Ford western or the last 5 minutes of a Lone Ranger show, the White Sox mounted a cavalry charge, putting up 5 runs. With the score 7-6 Adam Eaton launched one into the night with the bases loaded for a 10-7 White Sox win. He should have been riding a white stallion with a faithful Indian companion by his side and two Colts that shot silver bullets. He was the South Siders’ Lone Ranger for one marvelous night.
Anthony Ranaudo started for the Sox and didn’t last five innings giving up 5 runs. He’s all the Sox have while Miguel Gonzalez is on the DL. Meantime Carlos Carrasco struck out 11 but also gave up 5 runs while pitching into the seventh.
I had feared today’s column might be delayed, and thanks to a minor medical issue it’s even later than my most pesimistic guess. As a result today’s Red Sox-Detroit game is well underway, as is the Cubs-Brewers game at Wrigley. Jake Arrieta is on the hill for the Cubs. He has 14 wins and there isn’t much reason to guess he won’t get his 15th today. game 1 of the Little League World Series’ International division is underway between Mexico and Panama. The first USA game will be at 3 PM Eastern. Back in the bigs, the Dodgers hope to demolish the Phillies for the third night running. The Mets and Giants start a four-game series in the City by the Bay. Neither team is going well. The Giants have the worst record since the All-Star break and the Mets have played like garbage losing 5 of 6 to the D-Backs. If either team can take 3 of 4 in this series they can try to get a bit of momentum for the remaining weeks of the season. The first game is as good a matchup as you could want, with MadBum, or the Angry Hobo, Madison Bumgarner going for the Giants against the DeGrominator, Jacob DeGrom of the Mets.
Tigers’ lefty pitcher Justin Wilson is 29 today. I remember the Anaheim native pitching for the Yankees, particularly in a 19-inning loss to the Red Sox when I was in the midst of my 3-month hospitalization in 2015. He’s done well from the bull pen with a 16-8 mark between the Pirates, Yankees and Tigers. His college team at Fresno State won the 2008 World Series in Omaha. The Pirates claimed him in round 5 in 2008. The Yankees gave up major-league catcher Francisco Cervelli to get Wilson in November 2014. They then flipped him to Detroit after 2015 for Chad Green, a sometime starter and reliever, and Luis Cesa. Both have been up and down like yo-yos between Scranton and the Bronx.
Two men have birthdays today who are memorable to me because I broadcast them in my first AA year in New Britain. Alby Lopez is 45, and he pitched for canton in the first 3 AA games I ever did. They were at Thurman Munson Memorial Stadium, named for a favorite player of mine. A friend of mine with a well-tuned ear heard my broadcast and said I sounded like I was treading very lightly. I was, because on my first night I didn’t want to mangle the name of Thurman Munson as I would mangle other names in later years. On further review Lopez lasted until 2003 and played for five teams building a 47-58 record. Two were the expansion Devil Rays and D-Backs, along with the Indians, Braves and Royals.
Bobby Higginson was another 1993 AA player I remember who made the bigs and has a birthday today. The native of West Palm Beach is 46. He hit .272 with 187 home runs between 1995 and 2005 with the Tigers. He had played his college ball at Bill Cosby’s alma mater, Temple University in North Philly. On Sept. 27, 1998 he broke up Roy Halladay’s first attempt at a no-hitter with a home run in the 9th. Doc, as he was later nicknamed would pitch two no-hitters before he was through.
Former Yankees third baseman and coach Mike Ferraro is 72. A native of Kingston, New York (as was boxing champion Billy Costello,) Ferraro played parts of two season for the Yankees, part of one for the Seattle Pilots and part of a season in Milwaukee where the Pilots fled to from Seattle. He later coached twice for the Yankees, once for the Royals and Orioles as late as 1993. He managed the Indians and Royals for a portion of a year each. In Kansas City he stepped in to spell Dick Howser when the manager needed treatment for a brain tumor.
Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was born this day in 1934 in Carolina, Puerto Rico and famously was killed New Year’s Eve, 1972 when a planeload of relief supplies he was hoping to fly to Nicaragua went down. He was never found. He can always be found in Cooperstown, where he and his ilk live forever. He hit .317 with exactly 3,000 hits. I was listening to the game where he got his hit off Jon Matlac. I was 9. 2 months later I was listening to the radio on New Year’s morning when the awful news about his death was broadcast. Until then in my young mind the players were bigger than life, not really flesh and blood men. The announcers were real to me and they told the stories of what these mythic men did on the fields of play. But for this one blind boy Clemente’s death was an eye-opener. He played for only the Pirates between 1955 and 1972. In that stretch he was an All-Star 15 times. His teams won the 1960 and 1971 World Series. He was his league’s MVP in 1966 and World Series MVP in 1971 when his home run meant the victory for the Pirates. He won 4 batting titles between 1961 and 1967, all while playing at the gargantuan Forbes Field. Only he and Lou Gehrig have been enshrined in Cooperstown without having to wait five years after their careers. One of his sons broadcast Yankee games in Spanish for some years.0